Denis ClarkePreviously Unseen15th May - 1st June 2019 | Stanley Street Gallery

Denis Clarke
Previously Unseen

15th May – 1st June 2019

Denis Clarke

Painting for me is a bodily thing. It involves the relationship between one’s self and making contact with the tactile. Why tactile? Because I am touching materials and feeling out my experience of looking at a subject such as landscapes, people and buildings.

Drawing is the whole key. Not drawing for its own sake but drawing to explore ideas for connecting with the world. Finish is irrelevant. These drawings serve the purpose of the painting and illuminate my imagination to the possibilities of new compositions. I am interested in the physicality and directness of drawing which often finds its way into my works on paper as well as my paintings.

The work for this exhibition comprises a combination of oil on canvas and board as well as works on paper. Some larger paintings are done inside the studio, others in the deserted laneways of Marrickville. Conventionally, there is nothing particularly aesthetic about these alley ways.

Previously Unseen is grounded in drawing and painting directly from a subject: factories and urban streets, to explore structure and space. The challenge is one of interpreting the human built environment that we live amongst and experience our lives within. It strikes me that our cities are our emotional landscape and my work is a meditation on what the visual outcomes of that are. In beginning a painting, I am at first apprehensive; I proceed with a mix of drawing and painting and an element of indecision. I need something to observe so as to scan and take hold of shapes from buildings, spaces near and far, inspiration for colour and figures which inform the space.

My interest is what I would call creating a process of informed experiment. I allow myself to risk and play with media while aligning my senses with the observed. It is the otherness or feel of a subject which provides the impetus to experiment and find new solutions with mark.

For me working before a subject is deeply complex and a chance to explore visual language. The test is to find graphic statements and abstractions which truthfully parallel perceptions and travel towards a resolved image.

Previously Unseen  explores my reactions and connection with the urban which has been an important aspect of my painting for many years.  It is a reference to my wish to try and see the world anew.

Denis Clarke Install photo front gallery web copy

The New Work – Essay by Michael Snape, 2019

Still painting. Paints plein air. Paints shards, compiled until an unbroken summary emerges of the scene observed.
Paints despite the stockpiled evidence that proves the folly of such an effort.
Clarke paints out of an ‘exhausted’ genre of semi-abstract expressionism.
But wait! The empty well of ‘nerve’ is suddenly full.
It is the viewer’s pleasure of employing the dustpan and brush to resurrect an otherwise fatuous unity.
Clarke brings new light and life and mends a broken world.
Just when it seemed the world had moved on Clarke shows us a life yet undefined.
By virtue of the arrows embedded there, old means are new means. It’s only a lifetime after all, that these visual languages were formed.
Clarke in his maturity, shows the benefit of a slow emerging language.
Have we forgotten already what we had not yet learned?
Still painting. Just started!




Denis Clarke Artist Statement and CV April 2019 (PDF)